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Four Critical Mindsets For New Bosses

As a new manager, it's crucial to understand how your mindset needs to shift when you move from individual contributor to leading a team. Often, new managers don't have the clarity or skills to enact these changes and end up going back to what worked for them before. Unfortunately, this is damaging for both you as a manager and your team.


To help illuminate the key changes new managers must make, I spoke with Eric Girard, CEO of Girard Training Solutions and author of Lead Like a Pro: The Essential Guide for New Managers. Eric specializes in the development of new managers, focusing on their successful transition to their new role and on their team management skills.


Eric walked me through four key shifts that new bosses must embrace. 


ACCEPT NO MONKEYS


New managers often fall into the trap of believing they need to solve every problem. This mindset leads to taking on several metaphorical 'monkeys' that now are causing havoc on your shoulders. This concept originated in a 1974 Harvard Business Review article, Don’t Be a Monkey Handler. The author explains that employees are walking around with ‘monkeys’ (problems and tasks) that they are trying to get rid of. 


As a manager, it’s natural to want to help, but you can't and shouldn't carry everyone's 'monkey.' Instead, your job is to empower your team members to become problem solvers themselves. Eric suggests asking them, "What would you do if I weren't here?" You might be surprised by the creativity and potential in your team.


BECOME A FACILITATOR


When your team members need help, your role is to facilitate their thinking, not give them answers. Eric recommends the GROW model: Goals, Reality, Options, and Way Forward. It guides conversations, encourages problem-solving, and lays the foundation for a clear action plan. 

Ask questions that unpack what success looks like, what’s really going on in the current situation, what options they have considered or could explore, and what their next steps are. Classic journalistic questions (who, what, when, where, why, and how) are also great at fostering insightful discussions.


IT TAKES EFFORT TO BUILD TRUST


Building relationships with your team members is more important now than ever. To trust someone, you need to genuinely understand and appreciate them. Make time to get to know your team members. If you’re co-located, Eric recommends bowling as an ideal activity. It is not too competitive and provides ample opportunity for socializing, the real reason you’re gathered. 

Small gestures like handwritten thank-you notes or a $10 Starbucks gift card to acknowledge a job well done also go a long way in fostering camaraderie. 


NORMALIZE CHANGE


Change is inevitable in any work environment. As the boss, you have the added responsibility of supporting your team members through changes that, if not attended to, can be disruptive. Eric explains that we need to arm our team with the tools to navigate change effectively. We can share models like the Bridges Transition Model or the Kubler-Ross Change Curve to help guide our colleagues through the experience of change.


The Bridges Transition Model notes that every change is a departure from what was, a neutral middle where things are unstable or ambiguous, and the beginning of something else. Acknowledging these phases can give people an anchor during otherwise tumultuous times.


The Kubler-Ross Change Curve puts language to the emotional journey people experience during a change. Each person moves at their own pace and it’s important to allow people to vent as they process what’s happening. As Eric puts it, just don’t let them park there.  


NEW BOSSES NEED TIME TO ACCLIMATE


As a new manager, you’ve taken on new responsibilities that you may not even realize are now yours. You're expected to make a significant shift – from an individual contributor focused on task execution to a manager responsible for achieving results through your team members.

These shits take time, but the more you can embrace these approaches, the easier it will be to effectively lead your team now and in the future.



Listen to the entire episode HERE to learn more about conflict management.


Keep up with Eric:


- Follow Eric on LinkedIn here


- Join Eric’s Lead Like a Pro Workshop here


- Grab a copy of his book, Lead Like a Pro here


Giveaway: 4 Copies of “Lead Like a Pro”


Eric is giving away 4 signed copies of his book, Lead Like a Pro: An Essential Guide For New Managers. This book is your roadmap to becoming a successful manager people will want to work with. As Eric explains, anyone who wants to thrive in a new management position, get the most from their teams, and contribute to their organization’s success must transform themselves from an individual contributor who can manage tasks into someone who’s great at managing people.


To get this guest bonus and many other member benefits, become a member of The Modern Manager Podcast+ Community.


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The Modern Manager is a leadership podcast for rockstar managers who want to create a working environment where people thrive, and great work gets done.


Follow The Modern Manager on your favorite podcast platform so you won’t miss an episode!


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